Belief - Jainism

by Dr. Scott Andersen

I have been watching the mini series BELIEF put on by Oprah Winfrey on her OWN Network. I have to admit, I am totally enthralled with it.

The series has covered a variety of topics and perspectives around the notion of belief. It highlights these notions from all over the world and representing many different ways of believing. Here is how her website described the series:

Seven billion people, searching for connection, redemption, meaning. Oprah Winfrey presents the seven-night event, “Belief,” a groundbreaking television event exploring humankind’s ongoing search to connect with something greater than ourselves.

Journeying to the far reaches of the world, and to places cameras have rarely been, “Belief” searches the origins of diverse faiths and the heart of what really matters. From the epic to the intimate, webbed throughout each hour are stories of people on spiritual journeys, taking them to sacred spaces.

I have recorded the series and have been watching them on my own time.  I am through #4 of 6. After watching #4, which is titled, "Change is Gonna Come", I have to share the story of Anju, a girl from India, who practices Jainism. The show walks us through Anju's process of becoming a Jain Nun.

I found her spirit and the joy she had in her journey to be inspiring. I don't have to agree with everything, or anything, she believes in order to see her dedication, commitment and strong belief in what she was doing to be inspired by her.

Part of her journey to become a Jain Nun includes following three steps.

  1. She visits her family to make sure she can handle the idea that she is dedicating her life to being a nun and that she will not be tempted by worldly things. Of course, when visiting her home, her parents try to convince to wait. 
  2. She has a wedding where she is married to her faith
  3. She literally plucks the hairs from her head, one by one, to show her mastery of pain and her relinquishing of vanity.

After completing these 3 steps, the 15,000 people assembled from her community, are asked if she is ready to become a nun and then she is asked the same.  Once that happens, she becomes a nun and takes on the vows as such.  She will walk barefoot for the rest of her life.  She can no longer speak to her family, nor they to her.  In fact, the government of Indian, officially declares her dead. 

I am looking forward to the last two installments of these series and learning more about people I previously knew nothing about.